Mary Magdalene – Saint, Sinner, or Something More?

This is a comprehensive guide about Mary Magdalene that attempts to tackle the many issues associated with life and legacy of this importance figure in the Christian Faith. Beyond just the typical biography of Mary, we’ll attempt to separate which “Mary” she was/was from a Biblical perspective, talk about the apocrypha literature that features her (for example The Gospel of Mary and other early Christian texts), search for Mary’s tomb and relics, and delve into some of the conspiracies that involve her (did she journey to France, is she the Holy Grail, is she immortal, etc). It promises to be a wild ride so let’s get started!

Table of Contents

  1. Mary Magdalene – Biography
  2. Mary Magdalene and The Bible
    • Where is Mary Magdalene mentioned in The Bible?
    • Was Mary Magdalene the Adulteress from John’s Gospel?
    • Was Mary Magdalene a prostitute?
    • Was Mary Magdalene possessed?
    • Was Mary Magdalene the sister of Mary?
    • Did Mary Magdalene wash Jesus’s feet with her hair?
    • Where did Mary Magdalene go after the events of the Gospels?
  3. What is The Gospel of Mary Magdalene?
  4. Was Mary Magdalene canonized as a Saint?
    • Bonus: Churches devoted to Mary Magdalene
  5. Paintings featuring Mary Magdalene
  6. When did Mary Magdalene die? Where is her tomb?
    • Bonus: famous relics of Mary Magdalene
  7. Mary Magdalene Conspiracy Theories
    • Did the apostles of Jesus intentionally disparage Mary Magdalene’s name because they feared she was too powerful?
    • Was Mary Magdalene Jesus’ Lover?
    • Was Mary Magdalene the “Holy Blood, Holy Grail” as noted in Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code movie?
    • Did Mary Magdalene and Lazarus journey to France?
    • Is Mary Magdalene still alive?
  8. Movies about Mary Magdalene
  9. Mary Magdalene – the character from The Last Temptation of John books. 

1. Mary Magdalene - Biography

To say that Mary Magdalene’s name is controversial is an understatement – there is perhaps no more controversial figure in all of The Bible. For most of history (both during the time she was living and for centuries afterward) Mary Magdalene was at the center of numerous conspiracy theories surrounding her relationship with Jesus:

  • Was Mary simply one of many disciples of Jesus?
  • Was she a de facto apostle with her own ideas about how to spread Christ’s message and thus a threat to the more well-known apostle’s power?
  • Was Mary a financial backer of Jesus?
  • Was Mary Magdalen Jesus’ lover or possibly even the mother of Jesus’ child?

These questions and more cloud Mary Magdalene’s name and perhaps have made it impossible to know who she really was (after all, we must remember that the ‘history’ of Mary Magdalene as we know it over 2,000 years later is only what we are able to read by those who wrote that story – and as we well know by living in the age of Fake News or remembering Orwell’s epic 1984, just because something is written or said, does not make it true). 

Sadly we may never know the real story of exactly who Mary Magdalene was, but we can perhaps piece together a few of the “likely-to-be-true” tidbits about her life. 

It would appear fairly safe to conclude that Mary Magdalane was indeed…

  1. From the village of Magdala (a fishing village on the Sea of Galilee).
  2. Jewish – although we don’t know this for certain. 
  3. Was also called simply “Magdalene.”
  4. Was a follower of Jesus who traveled around with his disciples.
  5. Had a close relationship with Jesus since she was present at Jesus’ crucifixion and at Jesus’ resurrection – even when most of Jesus’ other disciples had deserted him. 
  6. Was an important figure among Jesus’ disciples because she is mentioned no less than 12 times in The Bible (more than most of the 12 apostles).

These statements about Mary seem relatively safe to rely on, HOWEVER as to the beliefs that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute, the famous adulteress of John’s Gospel, Jesus’ lover or even the mother of his child, we’ll likely never know – although we’ll explore all of these controversies and more in the rest of this article. 

For additional biographies of Mary Magdalene see also:

  1. The Smithsonian
  2. Bible Odyssey
  3. Wikipedia
  4. Biography.com

2. Mary Magdalene and The Bible

A. Where is Mary Magdalene mentioned in The Bible?

Mary Magdalene is specifically mentioned by name 12 times in the Bible in the following verses…

  • Matthew 27:55-56:  Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.
  • Matthew 27:59-61: Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.
  • Matthew 28:1: After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
  • Mark 15:39-41: And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.
  • Mark 15: 46-47: So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.
  • Mark 16: 1-8: When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.  “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ ” Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid. (Interesting tidbit: it should be noted that the earliest versions of Mark’s Gospel ended at this verse).
  • Mark 16: 9-11: When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.  
  • Luke 8:1-3: Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.
  • Luke 24: 9-11: When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.
  • John 19:25: Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 
  • John 20:1-2: Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” 
  • John 20: 11-18: Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

B. Was Mary Magdalene the Adulteress from John’s Gospel?

There is no concrete evidence that Mary Magdalene is the famous adulteress from the Gospel of John 8:3-11. The name of the adulteress in these verses is actually not given so we have no way of knowing who the woman was. It could have been Mary Magdalene…or pretty much any other woman alive at the time who lived there.

The notion that the adulteress was Mary Magdalene traces back to (at least) the early 6th century when Pope Gregory I officially proclaimed her to be the adulteress from John 8 (as well as Mary the sister of Martha and Lazarus AND the woman with the sinful past who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and/or the alabaster jar of perfume in various gospels). The apparent basis for Pope Gregory’s decision relates to Luke 8:2 where Mary Magdalene is specifically named as having been cured of “7 demons” by Christ – and yet although Mary Magdalene is clearly the “Mary” of Luke 8, one is left to wonder why this makes her the adulteress, or Mary the sister of Martha, or the penitent woman with the perfume?

  • Mary was one of the most common names among the people of this time in Israel (even Jesus’ mother was named Mary), so just because a “Mary” is mentioned in the Bible that doesn’t mean it must be Mary Magdalene, right?
  • In every other Biblical story that references Mary Magdalene, she is called by her full name at some point in the story so why would have be different in these stories? If any of these other women were in fact Mary Magdalene, why didn’t the gospel writer give her full name as was the case elsewhere?
  • We may never know why Pope Gregory made this decision (although see Section 6 – Conspiracy Theories for more), but it should be noted that while the Catholic Church held this view from the 6th century onward, it was officially reversed in 1969 by Pope Paul VI (although without much fanfare). 

 

C. Was Mary Magdalene a prostitute?

There is no concrete evidence to suggest that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute. As with the discussion about her being the adulteress from John 8, the case for Mary being a prostitute is thin here too. When she is mentioned by name in the Bible the only ‘disparaging’ remark ever noted concerning Mary Magdalene is that she was ‘cured of seven demons’ but we never learn exactly what those demons were. In the time period she lived (2,000 years ago), people in the Middle East allegedly attributed numerous physical, mental, and emotional ailments to ‘demons’ so it’s possible Mary’s demons were from some or all of these categories – Christ may have cured her of various physical sicknesses or perhaps he saved her from life as a wayward woman – we just don’t know. As with John’s adulteress, we have Pope Gregory I to thank for suggesting that Mary Magdalene was a woman of ill repute who repented at Jesus’ feet, but in fact the Bible never specifically says this about her and again the Catholic Church officially reversed this view of her in 1969. 

This being said, in an effort to give fair balance, it should be pointed out that Magdala may also derive from a Jewish Talmudic expression meaning “curling women’s hair” — implying a woman of loose moral character. If so, it’s possible Mary Magdalene was a prostitute at one time – even if she was a different person than Mary of Bethany or John’s adulteress. 

D. Was Mary Magdalene possessed?

This answer is a bit more of a slippery slope. The evidence to support Mary Magdalen being possessed is Luke 8:2 which reads “…some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out…” If we take this at face value, then we could conclude that Mary Magdalene was at one time possessed by demons and that Christ cured her of these evil spirits. But again, it’s also possible that either the translation itself isn’t quite accurate or more likely that the ‘demons’ were in fact simply various physical, mental, or emotional ailments whose symptoms were attributed to demonic beings as was often the case during this time period.  Whatever the case may be, of all the negative connotation questions in this section (B-F), this one has the highest likelihood of being true based on the evidence available. 

E. Was Mary Magdalene the woman named “Mary of Bethany” who was the sister of Martha and Lazarus?

The Mary of Bethany who was the sister of Martha and Lazarus was a close friend of Jesus based on what we read in the Bible in Luke 10:38-42 (Jesus at the home of Mary and Martha) and John 11: 1-44 (Lazarus Death and Resurrection) and John 12: 1-11 (Mary anoints Jesus at Bethany). Based on Mary of Bethany being the sister of Martha and Lazarus, we can also identify Mary of Bethany in these Bible verses too (all of which tell a version of a woman anointing Jesus with perfume and/or cleaning his feet with her tears/hair): Matthew 26: 6-13, Mark 14:3-9, Luke 7: 36-50

While this is all well and fine, there is little evidence to suggest that Mary of Bethany is Mary of Magdala (AKA Mary Magdalene). As already discussed, it was Pope Gregory I (AKA Gregory the Great) who officially connected these two Mary’s – however the Catholic Church reversed this decision in 1969 and it should be noted that the Eastern Orthodox Churches never connected the two

F. Did Mary Magdalene wash Jesus’s feet with her hair?

This is another question that refers to the Bible verses from Matthew 26: 6-13, Mark 14: 3-9, and Luke 7: 36-50 that relate to the story about the penitent woman who anoints Jesus with perfume and/or washes his feet with her fair. We already know this woman was Mary of Bethany because the event is also described in John 12: 1-11 in which Mary of Bethany is named. Since we also know there is little evidence to suggest that Mary of Bethany is Mary of Magdala we can realistically conclude that Mary Magdalene is not the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her hair… at lest in these specific Bible references.

Then again, we don’t know what Mary Magdalene and Jesus’ full relationship was so it’s possible she may have washed his feet with her hair in a non-recorded event. 

G. Where did Mary Magdalene go after the events of the Gospels?

There is no definitive answer to this question. One of the more popular legends is that, while Peter and Paul ended up in Rome, Mary Magdalene took her mission to France. We’ll delve more into this legend in the “Conspiracies” section below. 

3. What is the Gospel of Mary Magdalene?

The Gospel of Mary is a powerful and controversial document. It is not part of a standard canon Bible translation and is instead classified as an apocryphal text. It is however a clear work of Gnostic literature and what remains of the text can be found in the Gnostic Bible – an excellent resource for ‘lost’ Bible codices. 

What is the Gospel of Mary about?

As a work of the Gnostic genre, the Gospel of Mary presents a far different picture of Jesus’s mission – wherein he “teaches that the inner self is composed of soul, spirit/mind, and a third mind that is between the two which sees the vision.” More importantly as scholar Karen King noted “The Gospel of Mary presents a radical interpretation of Jesus’ teachings as a path to inner spiritual knowledge and rejects Jesus’ suffering and death as the path to eternal life.” 

In addition to Christ, well-known apostles are present (namely Peter, Andrews, and Levi AKA Mathew), but the star of the show is “Mary” – a woman who takes center stage: sharing private wisdom that Jesus told her about and even engaging in a power struggle with Peter and his brother for control of the disciples. 

For an excellent discussion about The Gospel of Mary see this backgrounder from Karen King

When was the Gospel of Mary written?

This is an ancient text was lost to history for many centuries. In 1896 it was discovered as part of a collection of apocryphal books identified as Papyrus Berolinensis 8502 (also known as the Akhmim Codex) – a group of 5th century texts written on papyrus that also contain the Apocryphon of John, the Sophia of Jesus Christ, and a summary of the Act of Peter. While the 5th century texts were a significant find, scholars suggest that the Gospel of Mary was originally written in Greek in the 2nd Century, and some trace its lineage back to the time of Christ. 

Which “Mary” was the Gospel of Mary about?

It should be noted that correct name of this text is actually The Gospel of Mary, that not all scholars agree that the Mary of this gospel is Mary Magdalene (some suggest it is Jesus’ mother Mary), and that Mary Magdalene is not specifically named in any of the surviving portions of this text. HOWEVER, because of the connections between stories in the Gospel of Mary and other ancient texts either written or discovered at the same time, many have concluded that this gospel tells the tale of Mary Magdalene. The evidence is as follows:

  • Mary Magdalene was identified as a prominent follower of Jesus in the official Bible – written about no less than 12 times in the various canonical gospels, she was present as Christ’s crucifixion, and she was the first person (not just first woman but first person) to see Jesus after his resurrection – clearly she was an important member of Christ’s clan.
  • Mary Magdalene was the star of other early Christian apocryphal literature which presented her as a leading figure among the disciples.
  • Specific ‘scenes’ which occur in the Gospel of Mary also occur in the Gospel of Thomas, Pistus Sophia, and the Gospel of Philip – and in the other text the Mary in question is specifically named as Mary Magdalene. 

 

How can I buy a copy of The Gospel of Mary?

4. Is Mary Magdalene a Catholic Saint?

Mary Magdalene IS held to be a ‘saint’ by the Catholic Church – although we don’t know exactly who canonized her (whether it was a Pope or a local bishop) because the only (public) Vatican records about Mary Magdalene’s sainthood list the date of her canonization as ‘pre-congregration’ – a catch-all term used when a person was sainted “prior to the institution of the modern investigations performed by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints” which didn’t formally begin recognizing saints until 1508.  

When is the Feast Day of Mary Magdalene?

July 22 is the official day of Mary Magdalene’s Feast Day.

She is also celebrated on March 1 in Switzerland and on Mary 19 among the Eastern Orthodox Church (certain relics of Mary Magdalene are stored in Constantinople). 

BONUS: Churches dedicated to Mary Magdalene

Did you know there are no less than 60 churches dedicated to Mary Magdalene? They span the globe from Europe to the Middle East to North America and even the Philippines. In the United Kingdom alone there are 37 churches devoted to her! (9 are in London). 

Here are some of the most famous churches dedicated to Mary Magdalene:

  1. The Church of Mary Magdalene is a Russian Orthodox church located on the Mount of Olives, near the Garden of Gethsemane in East Jerusalem, Israel.
  2. The Sainte-Madeleine Church is a Catholic church in Strasbourg, France.
  3. La Madeleine is a Roman Catholic church in Paris, France. 
Jerusalem
Strasbourg
Paris

5. Paintings that feature Mary Magdalene

It would take a massive tome to showcase all of the artwork that features Mary Magdalene (which again is a testament to how important her figure was throughout the history of Christianity). Here are a few of my favorites. 

St Mary Magdalene by Piero della Francesco
The Penitent Magdalene by Bartolome Murillo
Christ Mourned by the 3 Maries by Carracci
Pisa Crucifixion by Massaccio
Noli Me Tangere by Correggio
Noli Me Tangere by Giotto
Noli Me Tangere, Fra Angelico
The Morning after the Resurrection by Edward Burne-Jones
The Risen Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalene by Rembrandt
Magdalene in Cave by Pompeo Batoni
Repentant Magdalene by Gerard Seghers
Magdalene with the Smoking Flame by Georges de la Tour

6. When did Mary Magdalene Die?

We have no clear answer to exactly when Mary Magdalene may have died (or if she ever did?!?) but there are numerous theories.

The three most popular are that…

a. Mary accompanied St John the Evangelist to Ephesus (Turkey) to help spread Christ’s message and that she ultimately died there. 

b. Another theory says that she escaped persecution in the Holy Land and fled with a group of refugees to France and then lived as a hermit in a cave in the French mountains for another 30 years before her death. 

c. Mary Magdalene never died because Christ made her an immortal (like Lazarus) and she and other immortals are carrying on a secret mission to this very day. 

We’ll explore all of these in the Conspiracies sections below. 

Where is Mary Magdalene’s Tomb?

Since we don’t exactly know WHEN Mary Magdalene died, we also don’t know WHERE she died either – was it in Turkey, France, or anywhere at all. Various locations claim to have relics of Mary Magdalene, let’s see where they are…

Bonus: The Famous Relics of Mary Magdalene

Location: Saint-Maximin-La-Sainte-Baume, France

Relics: The skull of Mary Magdalene on display at the Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume basilica.

For more on this story see: CultoftheWeird.com

Location: Saint Baume mountains – about 15 miles outside Saint-Maximin-La-Sainte-Baume, France. 

Relics: bones of Mary Magdalene reside in a niche beneath her statue in the Grotto of Saint Mary Magdalene. 

For more on this story see: Atlasobscura.com

Location: Rome, Italy

Relics: remains of Mary Magdalene’s foot at the San Giovanni Battista dei Fiorenti (a small church near the Vatican). 

For more visit Roman Despatches.com.

 

To learn even more about the relics of Mary Magdalene, visit “Saints in Rome & Beyond” 

7. Conspiracy Theories about Mary Magdalene

A. Did the apostles of Jesus and/or The Catholic Church intentionally disparage Mary Magdalene’s reputation because they feared she would become too powerful?

Before you dismiss this remark as unlikely, you may want to think about it with an open mind. 

Remember what we think we know about Mary Magdalene with relative certainty…

  1. Mary Magdalene a close relationship with Jesus since she was present at Jesus’ crucifixion and at Jesus’ resurrection – even when most of Jesus’ other disciples had deserted him. 
  2. Mary Magdalene was an important figure among Jesus’ disciples as evidenced by the fact that she is mentioned no less than 12 times in The Bible (more than most of the 12 apostles).

These ‘facts’ are attested to by the canonical Gospels – the texts attributed to the founding fathers of the Christian Faith: Apostle Matthew, Apostle Peter (via Mark), Evangelist Paul (via Luke), and Apostle John. That they wrote about Mary Magdalene so much and described her close/constant relationship with Jesus is a testament to Mary’s significance among the group – this, in spite of the fact that she was a woman living in a man’s world in the Jewish society of that time period. 

And yet, one has to wonder – why did Mary disappear from The Bible after Jesus’ death? Did she merely fade out of society or was she intentionally phased out of power? 

On the one hand, there is a theory that Mary Magdalene fled persecution in Palestine following Christ’s death and left the area (possibly to France as noted below). If this is true, then the question is who was accosting her?

  • Was it Jewish authorities trying to root out the troublesome Christian factions infiltrating their synagogues? It’s possible this could be true — since we know the early church leaders were under duress (as evidenced by Apostle James allegedly martyred by the Jewish King Herod, St Stephen being martyred by Saul and the Pharisees, etc). If Mary was escaping a similar fate she may have taken herself out of the picture. 
  • On the other hand, numerous scholars suggest that Mary had her own ideas on how to carry on Christ’s mission after his death and that she repeatedly clashed with Peter and the early church leaders on this topic. It’s possible that Peter and his colleagues tried to decrease Mary’s power by tarnishing her reputation among early Christian followers – particularly as the faith spread and early followers only had word-of-mouth and written texts to go by as they learned the faith. 

Again, we are fairly certain that Mary Magdalene was prominent in Christ’s mission – she supported him financially, she was ever-present with him, The Gospels talk about her often and she is mentioned in all four Gospels, and she is a prominent figure in other non-canonical early Christian writings. This last point is worth exploring further and for more I’d encourage you to read any of the following texts where you’ll see Mary Magdalene in a new light:

All of these texts were popular among early Christian societies in the days before there was a formal Bible. More importantly, in these documents we’re presented with a Mary Magdalene who speaks with authority and often details her ideas for what Christ’s message was (which appears to be divergent from typical Christian focus and instead crosses into the Gnostic realm). 

If Mary Magdalene attempted to become a leader among early Christians and clashed with Peter and other apostles over the ‘correct’ direction of the faith, then a power struggle would have taken place. If there was such a struggle Peter and Paul clearly won out — since much of the New Testament features Paul’s work and both Peter and Paul became the recognized leaders of early Christianity. Since Peter, Paul, and the early Church Fathers who followed them controlled the messaging, they were the ones who also controlled history as relates to Mary Magdalene. Let’s not forget the rather infamous words of author George Orwell, 

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

If there was indeed a power struggle and if Peter and the early Church Fathers wanted to discredit Mary Magdalene, they had both the means and motive to do it. It’s possible this is why Mary’s reputation was intentionally sullied by naming her as the adulteress in John 8, or saying she was a prostitute, or the woman of ill-repute who washed Jesus’ feet with her hair/perfume. That this campaign was effective is without question – since so many people were brought up believe these unproven claims about Mary…for over 1,000 years! And casting her in this light clearly worked – since Peter, Paul, and their mates gained control of the church and never looked back. 

If this topic interests you, Professor Bart Ehrman has written extensively on the subject. Check out these books to learn more. 

B. Was Mary Magdalene Jesus’ Lover? Did Mary Magdalene have Jesus’ baby?

This is the famous “Holy Blood, Holy Grail” conspiracy theory has has been around for ages but gained popularity in our times thanks mostly to the work of author Dan Brown and his book The DaVinci Code.

At its most basic level, the legend here is that Jesus and Mary had children and their bloodline has continued through to this day – thus making Mary Magdalene the Holy Grail since her womb has de facto produced ‘everlasting life’ of Jesus’ divine bloodline.

Conspiracy theorists throughout history have taken this legend further by claiming that Mary and/or her children at some point migrated to France where they then married into various noble families and ultimately gained prominence (and power) as the famous Merovingian dynasty But it doesn’t stop there, since another level of this conspiracy is that the Merovingian’s were protected by a secret society called the Priory of Sion — an “esoteric Christian chivalric order, whose members were people of influence in the fields of finance, politics and philosophy, devoted to installing the Grand Monarch on the French Throne (a kind of French Messiah King prophesied by Nostradamus).” When viewed in this light, The Holy Grail is BOTH the womb of Mary Magdalene and the royal bloodline itself. 

If these legends interest you, check out the following books and videos:

C. Did Mary Magdalene and Lazarus journey to France?

This conspiracy is potentially part of the Holy Blood, Holy Grail theory, and yet also has multiple standalone legends.

  1. As we saw already, there is a belief that Mary Magdalene and/or her alleged children with Jesus were part of the lineage of the Merovingian kings of France.
  2. Alternatively  a not-as-far-fetched story is that Mary Magdalene left Palestine after Jesus’ death and migrated to France where she simply lived out the remainder of her days. One version of this legend states that Mary lived as a hermit for 30+ years in a cave in the vicinity of the Saint Baume mountains. 
  3. Another version is that Mary AND Lazarus traveled together by boat and migrated to France to escape the persecution of early Christians by the Jewish Pharisees who were trying to root them out and exterminate them (recall that Saul of Tarsus was one of the rapid persecutors of this era). 
  4. Yet another version of the ‘boat’ conspiracy is that Lazarus and Mary Magdalene AND Mary the mother of Jesus AND Martha AND an Egyptian servant named Sarah all traveled by boat to France. Some versions add that the boat had no sails and no oars and that it landed in southern France by the grace of God. Keep in mind that in this legend Mary Magdalene is essentially Mary of Bethany since the latter Mary is the sister of Lazarus and Martha. There is even a special French name for this legend and it’s called “Saintes Maries-de-la-Mer” (AKA “The Holy Marys of the Sea) and there are numerous tours you can take to visit Mary’s stops along the journey. 

As to what is fact and what is fiction among this crop of legends who can say? What IS true is that Mary Magdalene is revered throughout France so something must have happened in that country to make her name grow into such prominence there, right?

The possibility that Mary Magdalene at least journeyed to France after Christ’s death is not far fetched at all when we consider: 

  1. Jewish authorities in Palestine were violently opposing the spread of Jesus’ message in Israel;
  2. Many of the other apostles spread far and wide after the events of the gospels;
  3. Mary Magdalene appears to have been a woman of some financial means and if so could have paid for such a journey;
  4. Mary may have clashed with Peter and wanted to spread her own version of Jesus’ message in an untapped market.

Whether she made the trip to France with Lazarus and anyone else is harder to answer. What do YOU think about this one?

D. Is Mary Magdalene still alive?

This is a lesser known conspiracy that has numerous threads:

  1. There is the version that Mary Magdalene and Jesus were lovers and because she received the holy seed of Jesus into her body she gain eternal life in the process. 
  2. There is another theory that, although she was not Jesus’ lover and had no sexual connection with him, Christ gave her the gift of immortality so that Mary could survive until The Second Coming – for more on this conspiracy see Topic #9 below and read the book that features Mary Magdalene in a prominent role opposing the Antichrist. 

8. Movies about Mary Magdalene

There have been at least 7 movies and 1 theatrical play that focused on Mary Magdalene as the main character. They are:

  1. Mary Magdalene (play), a play from 1910 by the Belgian playwright Maurice Maeterlinck;
  2. Mary Magdalene (1914 film), a silent film adaption of Maeterlinck’s play starring Constance Crawley;
  3. Mary Magdalene, Close to Jesus (2000, Film): Employed as a spy and given the task of investigating the threat posed by John the Baptist, Mary Magdalene is overwhelmed by John’s powerful message of the coming of the Messiah. Gazing into John’s eyes before he dies, Mary is left with the certainty that her place is at the side of this great man, Jesus Christ.
  4. Mary Magdalene & The Holy Grail (2005, Film): The legendary search for the Holy Grail continues in this doc. An investigation into Mary Magdalene’s true identity and whether or not the Holy Grail was truly found begins with controversial theories and ends with startling discoveries;
  5. Something about Mary Magdalene (2007, Documentary): A Christian icon for two thousand years and the Church’s most legendary sinner-turned-saint, Mary Magdalene’s underestimated role in Christianity is finally coming to light. With compelling evidence, this revealing program tackles the myths about the infa
  6. The Murder of Mary Magdalene (2015), a documentary;
  7. Scarlet Woman (2017 film), a documentary;
  8. Mary Magdalene (2018 film), a biblical drama film starring Rooney Mara as the title character.

9. Mary Magdalene - the character from The Last Temptation of John Trilogy

The book series titled The Last Temptation of John is a work of fiction that features Mary Magdalene as one of the main characters. 

The book synopsis is as follows…

What if the events detailed in The Book of Revelations were about to occur… this year?

Could anyone save us from certain death? The answer is YES. Hard as it may be to believe, St. John the Apostle, Mary Magdalene, and Lazarus are all still alive today – having been blessed with the Gift of Immortality so that they could survive to fight against the coming of The Antichrist. Unfortunately, over the course of the last 2,000 years, John has lost his faith and is no longer willing to help his partners – that’s a problem because the Antichrist is here..now!

Can Mary and Lazarus help John recover his faith in time to stop Armageddon or will Satan’s Son achieve Ultimate Victory? The answer to that question and many more will be revealed in the thrilling new book series The Last Temptation of John.

Read it the trilogy today… if your faith is strong enough.

Mary Magdalene - What's YOUR Take?

Was Mary Magdalene a Saint or was she a sinner?  

We may never know the answer for sure and it’s likely we’ll never collectively agree on what’s true or not, but one thing is certain, there’s definitely MORE to Mary Magdalene than anyone will ever know. 

Where do you stand on the topic?

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